The Breath Holders



You know that moment of silence when a kid goes down on the ice? He goes down hard. And he doesn’t quickly bounce up like he normally does.

He’s barely moving. He’s cringing. He’s hurt. And he’s not trying to hide it.

“Get down on one knee!!!!” the coach yells as he races out onto the ice in sneakers, negotiating staying on his feet while simultaneously trying to get his ass there fast.

The little bodies, confused, quickly drop to a padded knee, resting their sticks on the ice. Standard sportsman conduct when a comrade is hurt—it doesn’t matter what team the hurt kid is on. Get on your knee.

The last time this happened I noticed the response in my body.

I’m holding my breath.

Arm pits tingle. Instant sweat down my right pit.

I’m suddenly unreasonably hot, and way too young for hot-flashes-thank-you-very-much.

The coach is crouching down over him now.

Then, panic hits me.

I look around. Shit, is that my kid? It looks like my kid. By process of elimination I scan the other boys and spot my son.

Eyes closed, sigh. Relief.

Relief only lasts a nanosecond. I’m holding my breath again.

My kid is fine, but someone else’s kid is not fine.

I’m holding my breath again. The voice in my head saying, please let him be okay, please let him be ok, please, please, please…get up, get up, GET UP!

He stirs.

I sit up straight.

Hands clasped tightly in front of my heart—thank you!

He rises with the help of his coach and skates off, supported. The boys rise to their feet and start clapping as they pat him on the back on his way by.

I’m clapping. Tears of gratitude well up in my eyes.

Every time this happens to another kid, I feel like it’s practice for when it’s going to happen to mine. What’s up with that?

If I rehearse this event enough in my head, will I be able to handle it with grace when it happens? Or will I freak out? Will it suck less if I practice now? Or am I squashing my joy just a little bit each time?


What happens when you fall?

Do people lower to a bended knee when you were down?

Do people applaud when you get back up?

Who’s holding their breath for you?

What would you do differently if you knew when you gave it your all, people would treat you with kindness and respect?

No one’s going to scream at the kid, “Get up! Stop being such a wuss!” Would you say that to someone else?

Would you say it to a kid?

My guess is no.

Even if you can’t hear them cheering for you, it’s because they’re probably watching you and waiting, holding their breath.

You can’t hear them if they’re holding their breath.

Waiting for you to stir, stand up, try again, or try something else.

When you do, they’ll applaud. You might not hear them – if they’re high up in the stands, or if you’re busy listening to people criticizing you.

Know this…

The people on one knee, the breath holders, and the clappers are still there. In your section, watching your bad-assery in your arena, cheering you on. You just can’t hear them.



Which way to the arena?

the arena

In the spring of 2015, Jacob had his first tryouts for ice hockey. Up until now, he’d being doing drills but never playing an actual hockey game.

Ry took him to the tryout. He called me 30 minutes after it started and said it was bad. Really bad. “Should I pull him off the ice?” he asked.

I told him it was his call.  In the end, he let him continue the tryout for another hour.

The other kids would skate from one end of the rink to the other, while Jacob was busy getting up after falling for the fifth time. All the other boys were waiting for him to finish his lap. Every single time. Until they eventually had to keep tryouts moving

He was the worst kid out there.

We figured his hockey career would be over after this. We thought he’d get off the ice bummed, then we’d trot his gently used equipment to Play it Again Sports and hope to recoup some money. I expected him to come home shattered.

My heart hurt for him.

We weren’t prepared for Jacob’s reaction when he skated off the ice and through the heavy gate.

“Daddy, did you SEE me? I was AWESOME!!”

Was this just like the American Idol contestants who’s kind, and potentially tone-deaf parents told them little Connie Crooner was a talented super star and she should keep singing?

Should we tell him he sucked? Should we let him keep trying?

“Um….ya…..good work out there buddy!” seemed like something a good parent would say.

He loved it, and wanted to keep going.

During the first few games of the season it was painful and horrible to watch as a parent. As I sat shivering with my butt on the cold metal benches, I’d cringe every time Jacob would go after the puck.

If he was coordinated enough to actually make contact with the puck, he’d lose his balance and fall over. Knocking kids down on both teams, ungracefully interrupting what could have been a great play for his teammates.

My face burned with embarrassment for him and myself. Sitting in the stands with all the other parents of amazing and talented hockey players I wanted to personally apologize to them all for Jacob’s playing…or, er…lack of.

He’d sometimes tell us about some of the other kids that told him he sucked. I asked him how that made him feel, he said it made him feel angry.

Jacob kept going. We taxied him to practice three times a week some weeks. In ever practice he gave it is all. He pushed himself to his limits every time his wobbly ankles hit the ice.

He never whined either. Even after an hour of drills, he’d skate his huge heart out.

Coming off the ice drenched with sweat, dripping from his smelly helmet he ALWAYS said he had fun.

During one game in the late spring we looked at him in awe – he was actually…good. How did that happen? He even had an assist! We prayed for a goal, but were happy with an assist. Coach gave him the actual puck he got the assist with. Jacob slept with the puck that night.

Fast forward 6 months.

After practicing once or twice a week for 6 months, and every waking hour all summer in the driveway with the net he bought with his own money—he got really good.

I’m grateful to his coaches – who worked with him and encouraged him.

Once we realized he was good, he said he wanted to play goalie.

What? Just stick with what you’re doing—you’re good at it!

He wore us down. He told me his way of getting what he wants is to keep asking. It worked.

Coach said if he wanted to give it a whirl, he should.

Today, he tried out being a goalie for the first time. I was hesitant. And not just because goalie equipment is damn expensive, and didn’t we just buy hockey equipment?

See, the goalie can either get all the glory for a shutout, or lose the game. I couldn’t bear my son being the cause for losing a game. Couldn’t I just enjoy him being good for a while? Why did we have to change?

He tried it out for 90 straight minutes of scrimmage, and from my untrained eye he did better than I thought he would. Of course I was rooting for him, I’m always rooting for him.

Checking in with the coach after, “Give it to me straight coach – you don’t need to sugar coat it. How’d he do?” Coach said he had a natural ability for the position and he should keep doing it.

Oh shit.

As I sat there watching the determination on Jacobs face as he let in about 50% of the shots on goal, I realized he was doing it.

Since his very first try out, he was playing in the arena. Literally and figuratively. And he didn’t give a rats ass about what anyone else outside of the arena thought about him. He fell hundreds of times in the past six months. He got up every single time, and cheered his team on.

In the past week I picked up Rising Strong from Brené Brown. It’s a book about what it takes to get back up after we fall. In it, she says, “If you are not in the arena also getting your butt kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

Jacob is seven, and he already gets this – and has no idea who Brené Brown is.

Today, we bought goalie equipment.

As I watched Jacob giving goalie his all, I had an arena-a-ha moment of my own.

I was plugging along making final edits to my book, I didn’t intend to put it on Amazon for sale.

That’s for big time people. That’s for people who want to sell millions of books. That’s for professional authors. I want to stay small. I don’t want people comparing me to the pros. I can’t play where they play.

This was the story I was telling myself.

I was playing safe.

I’ve always been one to play it safe. Except for that one time, in the Adirondacks with a semi-stranger. I’ll tell you that story later.

I was planning on distributing my book through my website, so I could offer my tiny book to the small audience on my site.

More importantly – if people hated the book, they’d have to go out of their way to email me and tell me they hated it…and who does that?

If it was on Amazon, people could write nasty things about me. They could tell me how much I suck with the click of a button and a few keystrokes.

After getting my ass kicked by Ry (not literally) after telling him I wasn’t putting the book on Amazon, he helped me realize I was playing small and safe by hiding my book. This way, if the book flops, no one would ever really know—and I could spare my feelings.

A-ha moment…

If anyone gives me shit or says they hate the book – and like my brave 7-year old, if they’re not also in the arena getting their ass pummeled, I don’t want to hear it.

Which way to the arena?

The best social media strategy




Do you feel the pull?

When you fire up your phone just to “check” if anything is new on Facebook.

When you’re bored with that you switch to Instagram. When looking at perfectly curated photographs gets old you cue up Twitter. Before you know it, you forgot why you even opened your browser.

Like walking into a room and wondering what brought you there in the first place.

The pull I’m talking about is that nagging feeling that you might be wasting time – Your time.

More than money, more than fast cars, your time is the most valuable asset you have and the one you can control the most.

Social media is a boredom cure, bathroom buddy (oh, c’mon, you know you do), and creativity killer.

A few weeks back I realized I didn’t like who I was when I was scrolling and scrolling, when I have better things to do and people I love who want my attention.

I took a Facebook-free weekend, and learned a lot about myself, and the people around me.

Monday morning though, I was back at it.

Like a dieter who was binging on chocolate cake. Standing up. At the kitchen counter.

Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. LinkedIn.

I’d set up little games with myself as I was working on my book. Write for 30 minutes, then reward myself with a Facebook break.

I was bored.

When I realized I was scrolling though pages and pages of updates without actually even reading anything, I knew something had to give.

Then this landed in my inbox and out of curiosity, I whipped out my calculator to see how much time I’d spend on social media by the time I was 100.

For simplicity sake, I estimated spending an hour a day on the drip.

If I’ve been on social media since 2007 and I spend an hour a day until I’m 100, that’s 73 years.

365 hours a year on social media, 26,645 hours of my life. That’s 3.03 years.


I thought about what I could accomplish with three years.

I could write a dozen books, a hundred blog posts, potty train a stubborn child, teach someone to read, master a language, or read 50 books.

Three freaking years.

Let that sink in.


Once I quantified this, I uninstalled Twitter from my phone. The next day I uninstalled Instagram.

I don’t have plans to quit Facebook anytime soon. It’s a tool that helps me set up real life things – with real people. I feel good about it, so it’s valuable to me and I mostly like the person I am when using it.

But…if I spend an hour a day on Facebook, that’s still three years of my life that are gone by the time I’m 100. That’s a lot of time and way more than I’m willing to donate to the scrolling time wasting gods.

Even if I limit Facebook to 15 minutes a day that’s still a big part of my life. Math whizzes feel free to do the calculation for me. I’m done with math for the day.

For now, I feel good about 15 minutes a day. Not sure yet how I’ll do it – keep a timer? I’m not into being super-strict and rigid – too fussy for me.

Being mindful of how I’m spending my time is the first step.


3 Ways to Power Through the Rest of the Workday When You Don’t Want to Work Anymore



It’s Tuesday at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. You just got back from your weekly Taco Tuesday lunch with your favorite coworkers, you’re full and happy.



You’ve accomplished a lot today, including getting that big presentation off to your boss, who thinks it totally rocks! You’ve got a few more things due by the end of the day and you know exactly what you need to do to get them done.

You can’t wait to cross them off your list with your pink glitter pen.

There’s just one problem.

You don’t want to work anymore.

Before you spend the rest of your day mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed for the billionth time, try one of these tried and true (and ridiculously easy) ways to power through the rest of your day without spraining your ankle or breaking a sweat:


  1. Change your scenery

Go outside for a quick walk and settle back into your desk. Better yet, go work outside if you can or find the closest, most inspiring café and stimulate your brain into working.

Book yourself a conference room or sit somewhere you don’t normally sit. The change will re-activate your brain, and get you mentally moving.

If you sit in an open office, this is a must.


  1. Get some fuel

With food and music. Skip the high octane energy drinks or your fifth coffee and opt for water, a green juice, and eat a piece of real food – think, nuts, seeds, veggies. Avoid the crash and save the sugar for after work. Then create a mental cue it’s time to work – headphones on, head down…and blast off!


  1. Trick yourself

Rewarding yourself is a fun way to play games with yourself to get shit done. Promise yourself when you finish your tasks and power through the rest of the day you’ll reward your hard work and head straight for some fro-yo, or happy hour, whichever is closer.


If all of these suggestions fail, consider going home. Maybe your brain really is fried from your hectic morning.

Your tired body and mind is ineffective and extra likely to make mistakes. Mistakes that could be costly and time-consuming to fix tomorrow. Blech!

Be honest with your work peeps, remind them what you accomplished this morning and tell them you need a mental break. Make yourself available if your team needs to reach you and promise to check in tonight, or come back after a great night’s sleep relaxed and refreshed and ready to take on a new day in the morning.

They’ll appreciate the honesty, and probably don’t want to deal with the hassle of reworking your sub-par work anyway.

Hair down, bottoms up, rest up, come back and be your amazing self in the morning.


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How to meditate if you’re a mom





Things we know are good for us but don’t do enough of:

  • Exercise
  • Drink less wine
  • Put money away
  • Meditate

Today I’m going to talk about the last one – meditation. I’m not going to address the other three because I haven’t figured them out yet.

It’s not that I have meditation all figured out either. I’ve tried it and I can tell you it feels good and I want more. But with little kids around, I don’t know how to get more of it.

Closing your eyes and taking deep breaths has its benefits; getting in touch with your inner-self, keeping calm, and deepening your breathing, which will increase your mental focus and make you a happier person to be around.

In the short run, it’ll help you stay sane so maybe you’ll make it through a whole day without yelling at the kids and feeling bad about it.

Easy enough.

Except you have kids! Who has time to meditate?

When you wake up in the morning and you realize you’re the first one awake you practically bounce out of bed. ALONE TIME! WEEEEE!!!!

You rush to your butt to your meditation pillow, settle in…breathe in… ahhhhhhh….

Then you hear a noise from the bedroom, followed by what sounds like elephant feet.

“My bed is wet.”


“Me” time is over. Total pillow time – 6 seconds.

You want to meditate, but the kids have other plans.

So why not work in little bursts of mindfulness throughout your day?


Here are seven practical tips to meditate while you mom:

  1. Steal a moment among the madness.

When you notice a moment when the kids are calm and quiet, close your eyes wherever you are and take a few breaths. Feel their presence. Feel how grateful you are to have these crazy little nuggets in your life.

  1. Meditate with the kids.

If your kids are old enough to close their eyes and sit criss-cross-applesauce on the floor, they can meditate with you. Sit together on the floor with the TV and other distractions quieted. Tell your kids exactly what’s going to happen next. Close your eyes together and guide them through some deep breathing. Walking them through it as their guide will be a calming experience for both of you.

  1. Do it in the bathroom.

You’re alone anyway. Stop using this time to check Facebook and instead use it for a quick sanity break. When you’re in the shower, or even sitting on the toilet. Close your eyes, pay close attention to your breathe. You’ll emerge from the loo feeling like a new person.

  1. In the car.

Please keep your eyes open at all times when you’re driving the car. Except if you find yourself at your destination early, and the kids asleep. Don’t let this moment pass you by! Turn some calming music on and enjoy the moment of meditative bliss.

If the car is in motion, you can practice mindfulness with your eyes open. As you travel along, focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, shoulders back, inhale, exhale, and repeat. Doesn’t that feel good?

  1. Take a walk.

Walking meditation is the new black. Even if you have kids with you, you can point out interesting things along the walk; a funny shaped rock, a chipmunk, how the bark on that tree over there looks different from all the others. The goal is to relax and connect with nature, your kids, and yourself.

  1. When you sit down to dinner.

When you all sit down to dinner you can take a moment to be grateful even if you’re not the praying kind. Silent your phone, light a candle, sit down and just enjoy two breaths focusing on your food before you start. You can do this as a family or do it alone – no one will know. Take one mindful inhale and one mindful exhale, in your head, say, “thank you”, then enjoy your food using all the senses you used to prepare the meal.

Take a bite of food, and pay attention to what the food feels like and tastes like.

  1. In bed.

Before you get out of bed in the morning, linger for just a minute. Set a simple intention for the day, like, “today I’ll keep calm when the kids fight.” Then smile to yourself and enjoy the day.

You can do something similar before bed too. Take a few minutes to think about the three best things that happened today, jot them down in a notebook if you like. As you lay there before you drift off to sleep consciously relax every part of your body, starting with your toes, working your way to your head – if you even make it there before you enter dreamland.


What I Learned After A Facebook-Free Weekend



Facebook is a problem for me. I admit it.

On the phone.

While watching TV.

Waiting for dinner to cook.

While eating dinner.

While brushing my teeth.

Waiting in line for anything.

Anytime I find an idle moment, including idling at a stoplight, I’m checking, checking checking.


We don’t know to be bored anymore. I certainly haven’t.

Thing is, I didn’t like the person I was with all this checking. I also, have more pressing shit to do, that’s not getting done.

I’m working on a book. I asked myself if checking Facebook is helping me reach my goal of getting my little book done and out into the world.

It’s not.

I decided to have a Facebook-free weekend to see how I felt. I had no other goal than this.

I removed the icon from my accessible apps on my phone on Friday afternoon and headed into the weekend.

Here’s what happened:

  • I noticed that J has a really hairy back. Like really hairy. Blond, hairy beast.
  • I breathed deeper. Have you ever noticed you hold your breath when you’re scrolling or waiting for a webpage to load?
  • I talked to not one, but two moms at T’s ballet class
  • I’m halfway through reading this. Which is inspiring me to keep disengaging from Facebook and general time-wasting online activities.
  • I colored, in this, and didn’t freak out when the kids wanted to color in it too….OUTSIDE of the lines!
  • I was bored! At stoplights, in line at Target
  • The kids had an unobstructed view of my face and not my eyelids from looking down on the phone
  • I learned I want to open the F-book and scroll when I’m feeling grumpy

Before you’re all like, “whoah, she didn’t check Facebook all weekend!” please know I cheated twice.

First, to get an address for an event, and second, when I got in line at the drive-thru bank and it was six cars deep…on a Sunday, the walk up was locked, it was hot and I was pissy.

I’m not going to go as far and say I’m quitting Facebook. Let’s not get crazy now. But I am setting healthy limits.

Cause I got shit to do.

What will you notice when you stop scrolling for a weekend?


PS – I’ve intentionally disabled comments. So you can toss your phone aside and go do something else. 

You’re welcome.





The Working Mom Gap



The kind of working mother you are.


The kind of working mother you want to be.

You want to be the working mom that goes on school field trips, bakes cookies for the bake sale, goes to all the soccer practices, makes a home cooked organic meal lovingly crafted with produce from your garden, rocks 4 inch heels, gets her hair trimmed on schedule, pays all the bills on time, socks money away in savings, has a firm ass, goes on 5 star vacations and has the adoration of her kids, her husband and her boss.


You’re the working mom who goes on one field trip a year (if that – and it’s only because you wanted to visit the planetarium anyway), buys cookies from the store for the bake sale if you actually remember, you go to soccer games but miss practice, you cook at home a few times a week, go out for dinner the rest. You have a “garden” full of beautiful plants, they might be weeds. You embrace flat shoes, trim your own hair when it gets unbearably scraggly, have $26 in savings, dreams of a firm ass – or might be able to call it firm if you flex it hard enough. You staycation and have the adoration of your kids, your husband and your boss.


See what happened there?

Your husband, kids and boss still adore you. (wink)

They don’t give a rats ass about the kind of person you want to be.

They only care about the person you are…right now, and that you’re there.

That you show up and wear your hat. Your mom hat, your wife hat, your amazing PowerPoint presenter hat.

So what do you do when the vision you hold for yourself is so far from reality it makes your heart hurt?


You adjust your vision, your reality, or both.

Want to grow a garden but are lacking time, or just don’t know where to start? Get your veggies from your local farmer’s market, plant one herb in a pot, and feel damn good about it.

Ask your kid how soccer practice was. Then look him in the eye, drop your smartphone and listen to him through the whole story of how he kicked the ball, scored on the coach. Listen until he’s done.

Do 10 squats every morning while you brush your teeth. Instant firm ass….even if it’s just padded.

Make no changes, and make peace with reality. The people you care about love you.

Make a tiny tweak to one area of your life at a time. Feel good about it.

Redefine what good means to you. Feel good about it.

Remember, you don’t need to be the best wife / mom / employee in the world. Feel good about who you are, today.

Close the gap.


What tweak will you make today to close the gap between being the person you are and the person you want to be?

10 reasons why having kids + a job rocks


Being a mom can be hard.

Being a stay at home mom can be hard.

Being a working mom can be hard.

Consensus – it can all be hard.

If we let it.

I’ve never loved the term, “working mom”, because all mom’s work. Having a kid is work from the second you start growing that little bean.

For almost seven years of my professional life, I’ve done it while being a mom. I have minimalist hacks to share with you. I plan on putting them into a book, that I’m writing….TODAY!

Today, I’m not talking about struggle. Let that shit go.

Instead, I’m going to share with you 10 reasons why having kids + a job rocks.

Top 10 reasons why I love having kids and a job

  1. Quiet car rides
  2. Talking to grown ups
  3. Using different brain-parts
  4. Work is more relaxing than mom-ing all day
  5. If my husband lost his job we wouldn’t be eating cat food (well, right away anyway)
  6. I want my kids to see their mother do work she enjoys outside of housework
  7. Kids are the BEST excuse for taking sick days (whether they’re sick or not). “Kid is sick, not coming in today”. No need to make up elaborate stories about bad lamb chops.
  8. Paychecks
  9. A great excuse when I need hubs to pick up the slack with the kids, “honey, I have to work tonight, can you put the kids to bed?”
  10. Giving my kids a super gigantic hug at the end of the day

Why do you love the job + mom role?

start with the truth

Got a difficult email to write? Start with the truth.

Boss asked you to write the marketing department and tell them they’re not going to get their new features? Start with the truth.

Need to back out of making 48 cookies for the bake sale? Start with the truth.

Need to quit your job? Start with the truth.

Want to say no to the big deal? Start with the truth.

Dying to tell the handsome fella you’ve been seeing for a few months that you love him? Start with the truth.


Okay, so start with the truth, then what?

Start with the truth, then edit. 

This is my best writing advice for writing hard things.

Take a breath [or 10], clear your brain cobwebs and just let the truth pour out. Don’t edit as you write. Let it all fall out.

When you’re done, revisit and edit. Step away. Edit 5 minutes later, an hour later, or after a week. Whatever it takes.

Pro tip: if it’s an email, populate the recipient email address after you’ve finished the message.

just say balls



When walking to my car [ahem, minivan racecar] after work I heard some young medical students talking behind me. A young guy, mid-twenties maybe was telling a story to two girls as they walked towards the el [Chicago for subway].

“I had this patient the other day, a male, about 25.”

First, I thought it was funny how he described his patient as male, 25. It sounded so very medical-ish.

“I asked him if he had any testicular pain.” He continued.

“What’s a testicular?” The patient asked.

“Testicles.” The pre-med dude said.

“What are testicles?” asked the patient, not understanding what the doctor was referring to.


What the student said next is what baffled me.

“I wanted to tell the guy, YOUR BALLS DUDE, YOUR BALLS! But I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to say “BALLS”…. so I had to ask.” He finally said.


As he said this my eyeballs popped out of my head. Of course the med students couldn’t see me because I was ahead of them by this point.

Let me ask you this.

Do you want to live in a world where you need permission to say BALLS?


Do you want to hear professionals use big words and jargoned-up speak?

Or do you want to hear plain language?

Do you think big words with oodles of syllables make you sound smart?

Are you worried what people will think of you if you write with simple words?

Will they think you dumbed it down? Will they think you’re dumb?

Absolutely fucking not.

Writing clearly and simply makes your reader’s life easier. They have to do less work to decode your message.

They get to save their precious brain power for their own work. Not for reading your sentences.

Day made.


If you can’t write something clearly, there’s a chance you’re dumb. Simplify the message. Move on.

Don’t write for your friends, write for your audience. Always.